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New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

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NMSU Recognizes Agricultural Leaders, Faculty and Staff

LAS CRUCES - Two New Mexicans were honored for their leadership and contributions to the state's agricultural industry during a special annual awards ceremony Friday at New Mexico State University's College of Agriculture and Home Economics.


Larry Hobson, a longtime university supporter and co-owner of Hobson Gardens in Roswell, received the New Mexico Outstanding Leadership Award. Hobson is completing his third year as president of the NMSU Cooperative Extension Service's Support Council.

He was recognized for his leadership in educating the public about the scope of the Extension program, as well as keeping public officials informed of Extension's program and budget needs. Hobson led vital discussions on legislative initiatives and state and national Extension programs, as well as supporting NMSU research and teaching activities.

Hobson has served as president of the Chaves County Fair and Eastern New Mexico State Fair. He's also been a member of the board of directors for the New Mexico Farm and Ranch Heritage Museum and Chaves County Farm Bureau.

Paulina Salopek, Las Cruces pecan grower and business leader, received the college's Philip J. Leyendecker Agriculturist of Distinction Award. The Leyendecker award is named for a leader and former dean who invested more than 30 years in improving NMSU and New Mexico agriculture.

A 1955 NMSU business graduate, Salopek has been an active supporter of agricultural research, Extension work and student scholarships. In 1992, she established the David and Paulina Salopek Scholarship for juniors or seniors majoring in agricultural economics at NMSU.

For the past 20 years she has run Roadrunner Pecans, a 1,000-acre orchard of primarily Western Schley pecans, five miles south of Las Cruces. Salopek was named first female president of both the national Pecan Growers Association and the Western Pecan Growers Association. She remains active in both today.

She has chaired the agriculture and land use committee for the Mesilla Valley Economic Development Alliance and serves as a member and secretary of Memorial Medical Center's Board of Directors. Salopek has been chair of the Doņa Ana Planning and Zoning Commission since 1989, and is secretary of the Las Cruces Public Schools' Foundation Board.

NMSU President Jay Gogue and Jerry Schickedanz, the college's dean and chief administrative officer, presented the awards.

Members of the college's faculty and staff honored during Friday's awards program were Rolston St. Hilaire, assistant professor of horticulture, for the Distinguished Teaching Award recipient, and Jerry Hawkes, agricultural economics and agricultural business assistant professor, Teaching Award of Merit recipient from the National Association of Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture.

In addition, Curtis Monger, agronomy associate professor, received the Distinguished Research Award, while Bob Coppedge, Extension specialist for economic development, was given the Distinguished Extension Award. The Distinguished Service Award went to Richard Phillips, a project manager with NMSU's Cooperative Extension Service and coordinator of the New Mexico Chile Pepper Task Force.

Sonja Jo Serna, a computer technician in the agricultural communications department, received the Classified Staff Award for her contributions to the college's distance education effort.